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Delta Dental of California Senior Oral Health Priority

Addressing the senior oral health crisis

Improving the oral health and wellness of older adults is a priority for Delta Dental. Learn more about how we’re addressing this critical issue.

Why focus on senior oral health?

1 out of 5
Americans will be over the age of 65 by 2040¹

1 in 6
adults over 65 have untreated cavities²

2-3 times
higher rates of untreated tooth decay among Black or Mexican American seniors compared to the general population³

50%
of the Medicare population has no dental benefit coverage⁴

The dire state of oral health for our nation’s older population was declared a public health crisis by the National Institutes of Health in the December 2021 report, Oral Health in America. The report found that adults aged 65 years and older are the most critically underserved and vulnerable population for oral health care in the United States. Currently, Medicare offers limited dental benefit coverage.

In recognizing this public health crisis, Delta Dental is committed to improving the lives and well-being of older adults, especially those living in poverty, people of color and those whose mobility issues keep them from receiving oral health care. 

What is the Senior Oral Health Program?

This program addresses the senior oral health care crisis through partnerships with community-based coalitions focused on improving access to care. Its multifaceted approach aspires to improve the health of our aging adults, particularly those in marginalized communities.

Our coalition program partners

In collaboration with our first two coalition partners, Howard University College of Dentistry and Mary’s Center, this program will promote the connection between oral health and overall health, provide quality outcomes, improve accessibility and create greater equity in the care and treatment older adults receive. Insights collected throughout the program will be utilized to identify effective solutions and inform the Delta Dental Senior Oral Health Care Model, which will be replicated as the program develops. The program will expand to form coalitions with other community partners.

Howard University College of Dentistry

Howard University is one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The College of Dentistry was founded in 1881 and is the country’s fifth oldest dental school. The College has trained thousands of dental professionals who serve communities around the world. 

Mary's Center

For more than 30 years, Mary’s Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center, has been serving people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds from the Washington, DC metro area.

Goals of the program

Identify, assess and address the socioeconomic and systemic causes of poor oral health among older adults, particularly those living in poverty

Create a replicable model for community-driven oral health solutions

Improve quality of life for seniors by reducing oral care disparities

Other senior oral health partners

UCLA School of Dentistry

The UCLA School of Dentistry MINDFUL Project addresses the public health crisis facing older adults by increasing access to comprehensive oral health care.

Meals on Wheels San Francisco

Meals on Wheels San Francisco works on the front lines to support the critical nutritional needs of low-income seniors with health challenges, including poor oral health, facing limited or no access to food.

Emory University

Utilizing new biomedical technology, Emory University monitors, diagnoses and treats senior adults and expectant mothers who face oral health disparities.

State University of New York at Buffalo

The State University of New York at Buffalo provides care to seniors and individuals living with intellectual or developmental disabilities, educates providers to care for these populations, and promotes prevention and oral health literacy.

Recent news

Get the latest insights on how Delta Dental is addressing senior oral health care.

El Tiempo Latino: DC has a pilot plan in favor of your teeth

In the United States, some 76.5 million lack dental insurance and among immigrants, especially the elderly, there is an oral health crisis. Oral health is not a priority of the health system. In an attempt to make up for some of those shortcomings, California-based Delta Dental Community Care Foundation just launched a pilot plan in DC. 

Filling the gap: A Delta Dental Q&A on the senior oral health care crisis in America

To shed more light on the challenges seniors face in maintaining their oral health, Read this moderated Q&A session with Mary’s Center Family Physician Dr. Laura Blinkhorn and Delta Dental Chief Dental Officer Dr. Daniel Croley. We discussed how we’ve arrived at this point of crisis, why it’s important for oral health to be maintained as we age and what we can do to help.

Delta Dental Community Care Foundation launches multi-year funding program to address national oral health care crisis among older adults

The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of California, today announced it is launching a multi-year program to fund community-based coalitions to address the oral health care crisis among older adults in the U.S.

Take a deeper look at what we do

Learn about the senior oral health program and the mission of the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation.

Dentistry decoded: senior oral health

Understand the oral health risks seniors face and what you can do to protect your health.

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